ALCASA introduce Arabic Songs to the Adelaide Fringe Festival

In the 60 years of Fringe in Adelaide, this might quite possibly be the first time an all-Arabic music event has been on the program – and a SOLD OUT event of 120 guests as well!!
On the 14th March 2020, the Arabic Language and Culture Association of SA (ALCASA) proudly presented ‘Aghaani Zamaan’ – classic Arabic songs that have enchanted generations in the Middle East.
There was an electric atmosphere at the Nexus Lion Art Centre as a huge crowd revelled to a medley of talented and passionate local artists who breathed new life into classic Arabic hits of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The show opened with a 60s classic from Taroub – Ahla w’sahla bil ahbab that really made the crowd come to life. Rania and Nouha vocals seduced the audience as they sang in harmony to Charlie on the qanun, Rabih playing the oud, Ahmed on the tabla and Ahssar on the percussions.
A diverse audience of all ages and backgrounds were overwhelmed with nostalgia and raw memories of their homeland as the melodies sent them back to their childhood and their rich cultural heritage. Classic hits from superstar Fairuz, Sabah and Nasri Shamseddeen had the audience on their feet soaking in the history. One audience member was ecstatic and thanked ALCASA for the opportunity for their mother, who is suffering from dementia, to be able to sing along to every song; “I haven’t been as connected to mum as I was tonight. Bless you all for the wonderful experience.”
The performance also exposed to a whole new audience the legacy left by the legends of Arabic music and showcased the significance of some iconic songs from long ago. The artists provided a new experience for lovers of world music by contextualising each song and even providing phonetic lyrics so the audience could sing along – karaoke, Arabic style!
The crowd participated with their singing and clapping and gave a standing ovation to the musicians. The audience celebrated the singers and received many congratulations; one audience member praised the singers for their “amazing voices and beautiful presence”. This event was certainly a night to remember and one our audience members will never forget!
ALCASA would like to thank all involved for their outstanding commitment and support to allow us to host this event and we are humbled by the amazing community endorsement to continue to host great events like this one. Special thanks to Nexus Arts for encouraging us to participate in the 2020 Fringe Festival. We felt so lucky for receiving subsidies to present this unique ALCASA performance. We look forward to the opportunity to share with you all again soon.

Check for more photos at

https://www.facebook.com/pg/ArabicInAdelaide/photos/?tab=album&album_id=3441509092544166

ALCASA Team and their First Song, February 2019

The ALCASA Music Workshop with Julian Ferraretto (Nexus Arts – Creative Cohesion) was an active and engaging experience for all, which was filled with ongoing laughter, listening and learning!

Not only did the kids put their musical talents to the test, but also the adults were tapping and clapping to the rhythmic nature of the diverse Middle Eastern instrumental beats that were produced.

The grand finale was the highlight for most, whereby the audience (adults and children) incorporated Arabic lyrics and tailored them to Ferraretto’s original piece depicting the typical sounds that one would find in a local Souk market. Thus, the scene that followed could only be described as an authentic, musical masterpiece.

Tania Zebian

ALCASA 2018 Sahra

On a warm Autumn night the nostalgic beat and rhythm of centuries of Arabic music and culture was heard in the heart of Adelaide.

On the 24 March 2018, the Arabic Language and Culture Association of South Australia (ALCASA) hosted their third annual Sahra event سهرة to a sell-out crowd of 100 guests. Members, family and friends from a broad range of cultural backgrounds and diverse nationalities gathered at the Burnside Community Center to play, sing and dance.

Firstly we were treated to a magical performance by the world-renowned belly dancer, Nayima Hassan of the South Australian Belly Dance Academy . She mesmerised the guests with a stunning opening dance swathed in fairy lights, impressed with her classic dance of the swords and blew the crowd away with her final routine atop a derbake!!! Nayima then got the whole crowd involved and led guests through some basic introductions to the art of bellydance.

The main focus of the night was to celebrate Arabic music and dance and the audience were lucky enough to hear demonstrations of some classic Arabic instruments including the oud, qanun,  derbake and buzuq. Thank you to Charlie Yarak, Rabih Aintarazy, Raja Jamaleddine and Abu Hassan, Ahmed Sdik, for the traditional music and supporting the beautiful voice of Rania Daou. Rania delighted the crowd with some well loved classics and had the whole audience singing and swaying to the songs of their homeland and of their youth.

The surprise of the night was our invitation for audience members to participate in the line and sing some of their favourites. What an amazing talent our members and friends have! We heard from males and females, the young and old, classic songs from across the Arabic nations and some heart-wrenching emotional ballads that had the whole crowd in tears.

ALCASA members treated our guests to an array of Arabic sweets and delights and the evening line-up broke up for a chance to meet each other and foster positive relationships between cultural backgrounds, both Arabic and non-Arabic. We sipped strong coffee and shared stories and memories before we were attracted by the arrival of the Glimmers of Hope, Palestinian dabke dancers. The young performers brought to life 1000s of years of tradition to celebrate their passion with the audience and their hope to carry on the tradition with the young children in the crowd. It was wonderful to see the 3 generations dance alongside each other to explore and embrace their history.

What a night to remember! So many wonderful experiences to keep for all in attendance, we know everyone enjoyed the evening very much. Thank you very much to all the artists, musicians and singers and especially the ALCASA members and volunteers for their significant contribution to a hugely successful event.

Hassan Mekawy

Posted by Arabic In Adelaide on Sunday, March 25, 2018

2017 End-Of-Year Celebration and ALCASA Monthly Meetings in Review

On Sunday 17/12/2017, we held an exceptional end-of-year celebration and hosted a music workshop with the  accomplished Syrian violinist Abdul Nanou. Abdul played some well known popular Arabic songs to the delight of the amazing audience who enjoyed singing along during the whole workshop.

During 2017,  ALCASA continued to thrive, thanks to the talented and dedicated members and friends who regularly attend the monthly meetings and occasional cultural events.

We are very proud of the young members of the ALCASA Children’s Group who held their 2017 graduation ceremony on Sunday. The Children enjoyed decorating their Arabic names and received their 2017 reports, as well as an Arabic book to read on their own at home. Some of the children have been attending with their dedicated parents since 2013. The devoted parents participants  plan and organise the program of the children’s monthly sessions. Many thanks to Hassan, Nadia, Ahmed, Rua, Zain, Dalal and Grace for their highly appreciated contribution.

A scrumptious afternoon tea was provided by members and their guests during the end-of-year celebration.  الضيافة (diyafa), hospitality is a well entrenched practice in the Arabic culture and we do enjoy putting in practice this tradition during the ALCASA social gatherings. In addition, the regular ALCASA events provide opportunities for adult learners of Arabic to meet native speakers, to read together in-house produced simple Arabic text (‘aamiyya and fus’ha) and to speak in the Arabic language. Heartfelt thanks to all regular participants with special thanks to the native speaker volunteers: Doris, Hanaa, Leyla, Sudas, Hayan, Ahmed, Dany and his mother Muna during her stay in Adelaide.

Since 2013, ALCASA have been hosting occasional cultural events and workshops aiming to enhance intercultural understanding among South Australian communities. Our events rely on local artists and presenters. We are grateful to benefit from the continuous support of the local  artists Ahmed Alkhalidi, Charlie Yarak, Rabih Aintarazi, Nayima Hassan and Zaffit SA. Additionally, we have been very lucky to enjoy in 2017 the talents of the calligrapher Safaa Alkhazraji and the musicians Alex Hadchiti, Zuhir Naji and Abdul Nanou.

Whereas we rely on membership fees to fund our main activities, we do acknowledge the continuous support of Multicultural SA, enabling ALCASA to hold certain cultural events. Sometimes local businesses contribute to our events either by holding cultural demonstration or in providing in kind donations, gifts and prizes. We are very thankful to such generosity and we do acknowledge donors during the related events, also on our social online media and in our website posts. Most ALCASA events have been held so far in various Adelaide city based venues, thanks to the gracious hospitality of the City Of Adelaide Community Centres and to Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia.

ALCASA events will remain open to anyone with interest in Arabic and we are always delighted to meet new members and friends. To explore ALCASA’s past events, please refer to earlier posts here. For a quick overview,  check below a selection of photos taken during the ALCASA monthly meetings held for the last few years.

The ALCASA monthly meetings will continue to be held on the third Sunday of the month in 2018. Many exciting activities and events are currently  in the planning stage. We look forward to continue providing a fun environment to communicate in Arabic and to share interesting aspects of the Arabic culture with the South Australian community.

Fayrouz Ajaka

Posted by Arabic In Adelaide on Sunday, May 15, 2016

ALCASA End-Of-Year Celebration, Sunday 17/12/2017

We are holding the ALCASA End Of Year celebration on Sunday 17/12/2017.

We will start our sessions with the ALCASA Children’s Group graduation party from 1:30 to 3:00 pm including an afternoon tea (bring something to share).

From 3:00 to 4:00 pm, we are delighted to present our very special guest Abdul Nanou. Abdul is an accomplished violinist who will be showcasing the violin in Arabic music while playing well known songs by famous Arabic stars such as Fairouz, Sayed Makkawi and Sabah Fakhre.

ALCASA Language Exchange group will hold their conversation session from 4:00 to 5:00 pm.

Participation is by invitation only, send us a personal message on Arabic In Adelaide if you wish to take part of this creative music experience.

ALCASA Movie Night, “On the Banks of the Tigris: the hidden story of Iraqi music

On Saturday 10 June 2017, ALCASA hosted the screening of the Award winning Australian documentary On the Banks of the Tigris: the Hidden Story of Iraqi Music. While waiting for all guests to arrive, we enjoyed Arabic coffee, Iraqi tea and home-made sweets donated by generous ALCASA members. We were delighted to have among our guests, Mrs Iraq Universal 2017, Roai Alanbari, and a number of Iraqi friends who were very happy to share, before and after the movie, their stories about their homeland. Check the event’s photos at ALCASA’s Facebook page Arabic In Adelaide.

Dr Minerva Nasser-Eddine, co-founder and member on ALCASA, introduced the movie in a thoroughly researched presentation. The movie retraces the journey of the narrator Majed Shokor who escaped from Iraq, and began yearning for the past and recalling fond childhood memories. During this journey, he discovered the songs he loved had a hidden story. Shokor travels around the world to meet exiled Iraqi musicians and organises a concert at London’s Barbican Centre where they all play and celebrate the Arabic music and songs they love.

For decades music, literature and art were a shared cultural heritage that flourished in the melting pot of Baghdad from the 1920s to the 1950s. The film explores the hidden history of Iraqi music and the cultural ties that still connect Jewish, Christian and Muslim Iraqis. As Majid Shokor aptly notes: “For Iraqis living in exile, these songs express our loss and longing for our homeland. ”

We were deeply touched by the movie’s story line. Many of us, had to leave our home countries looking for peaceful life. On The Banks of the Tigris depicted our struggle, always carrying our homeland within, no matter where we live now. Some of us are lucky enough to be free to move between cultures and geographical boundaries. Others are forcibly alienated from their own heritage. Despite the hurts and wrongs, Arts hold the key to transcend the experience, to unite us as humans.

We acknowledge the valuable support of the Minister of Multicultural Affairs, South Australian Government.

Posted by Arabic In Adelaide on Saturday, June 10, 2017

Fayrouz Ajaka & Minerva Nasser-Eddine